N.1 triptych of ukiyo-e woodblock prints
Year: 1897
Condition: fair
Size: 72,5 x 36 cm

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Rare triptych of woodblock prints by the artist Utagawa Kunisada III (三代目歌川国貞) depicting the famous struggle, from the play “Mounting Love at the Snowbound Barrier” (積恋雪関扉), between the court noble Otomo no Kuronushi (大伴黒主), disguised as the guardian Sekibei (関兵衛) armed with a huge axe, and a beautiful courtesan who is actually the Spirit of the Ink-dyed Cherry Blossoms (墨染桜の精). On the left Princess Komachi (小町姫) and her fiance Shosho Munesada (少将宗貞).

The triptych, entitled “Play at the Kabuki-za Theater: The Barrier Gate” (歌舞伎座上るり 関の扉), was produced in February 1897 by the publisher Tsutsumi Kichibei (堤吉兵衛) and portrays the protagonists of the aforementioned work played, from right to left, by the actors Onoe Kikugoro V (五代目尾上菊五郎), Ichikawa Danjuro IX (九代目市川団十郎), Onoe Kikunosuke II (二代目尾上菊之助) and Ichikawa Somegoro IV (四代目市川染五郎).

The prints on Japanese washi paper (和紙), despite evident signs of aging including small holes, wrinkles, fractures and restorations, are in overall fair condition, thanks also to a relining carried out on the back.